Archive for September, 2011

Backpages

Posted in Uncategorized on September 23, 2011 by a4synapse

Cleaning, rearranging, backfilling – all pasttimes of the truly desperate. A stroke of serendipity connected me with the July 1975 issue of Cosmopolitan. That says a lot, I know. The cover is Jerry Hall, looking like she just came out of the roaster. She is (and was then) a beautiful woman, but looking at her face and pneumatic breasts is an experience in time travel. You can see her Texas roots.

Cosmopolitan was Helen Gurley Brown and it was about the reclamation of women’s sexuality and independence, or something. Featured headlines: In the Morning, No? or Yes? It’s what you feel then that tells how you truly feel about him. 31 Eye-opening Experiences. Is yours among them? (every word had a cap; I got tired).

OR: My Life in a Convent, by Edna O’Brien (who was a semi-prominent writer).

OR: The Sexually-Aggressive Woman — Why She Is Becoming the Norm Instead of the Exception (very careful with the capitalization on this one).

AND: A Doctor Discusses the Stupidity of Destructive, Negative Feelings About How You Look. Since you will find the cover below, note that this headline is directly opposite Jerry’s rack.

Cosmopolitan7-75

The obvious here is that Cosmopolitan could place any professional face-du-jour on the cover and run exactly the same stories. They couldĀ  switch out Charles Bronson for ohhh, Gerard Butler, and place “My life in Rehab” by Lindsay Lohan at the top right and I suspect few would know the difference. Yes, that’s a tired trope as well. It sometimes seems that young female persons could use a better education about life when they’re still young enough for it to stick. That Cosmopolitan is doing the exact same thing 35+ years later is so very very sad.

So, about 1975 and thinking about personal histories and what we do with them: family, friends, places, disasters, triumphs and the mental space the memories consume and influence. ‘Revenge’ premiered on ABC last night; it was about reclaiming one’s past. That girl has issues, especially that dye job from prison.

Someone famous said: “The past is always with us.” And many students of the middle east have remarked that events that occurred 1,000 years ago are as ‘live’ to many in the region as the day before yesterday. There are many in the U.S. who have no clue or care what happened 20 years ago. So… is it safe to say that the importance of memory is cultural? Whatever. I’m going with that. Then consider that the individual (yes I’m going fractal) relates to his/her past in a personally constructed matrix, and this is the rub: I don’t want to be a bee in amber anymore.

What means are there to keep ‘what was’ from reinventing itself or reimprinting itself? Records are meant to be broken.

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Charlie Ignas

Posted in Uncategorized on September 5, 2011 by a4synapse

On this Labor Day I remember Charlie (Chollie) Ignas, who worked for SEPTA for a very long time and raised eight children in a cramped rowhouse with his wife Janie. At least two of his children served their nation; some married and bought homes and raised children of their own; some are probably wanderers. During WWII, Chollie worked in the naval shipyard, pushing asbestos into the crannies of submarines and destroyers, which led to his death from mesothelioma in the ’80’s, within two years of his retirement.

I saw him the week before he died, lying in a bed set up in the livingroom. He was one of the most social men I’ve ever known; loved his wife, loved his kids, tons of friends, a union man. His daughter told me that, when the union went on strike, it was hot dogs and beans and bread every night for the duration of the strike. A union pension provided for his wife Janie after his death that was comfortable enough for her to take up living again and traveling to see her children who had pushed out from their east coast origins. As I remember them, they were a volatile, curious, opinionated, inventive bunch. They were half-russian, half-irish.

Chollie was wiry and jumpy and laughed a lot and talked a lot. Lying there, his appearance was shocking. I had never seen a person so close to dying from cancer. His hair was a halo of shocking white above his face which was little more than bone covered with skin. His eyes were the most amazing, intense blue and Chollie was alive.

This man and his family, for me, are what the United States is about. Both Chollie and Janie were first generation. They had kids, served their nation, worked in jobs that paid a wage that provided for a home (even if it was modest) and a pension to provide for illness and retirement. This is the backbone of the U.S.

He gave me a harmonica. It’s one of my most treasured possessions.